Your 24/7 sacrament, part two

Couple on mountain RGB meXUJOmWe’ve learned to pray together. Franciscan Father Mike Bertram, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in Milwaukee, feels that part of his responsibility as a priest preparing a couple for marriage is to help them feel comfortable praying together. He has noticed that on the Catholic pre-marriage inventory, most couples say they are uncomfortable praying together. “It is my belief that prayer is the most intimate activity of our lives,” Bertram says. “Many couples agree with me that they’ll tell God something that they wouldn’t tell their spouse. If that could be shared with a spouse, think how it might strengthen a couple’s relationship.”

One couple whose wedding Bertram celebrated now takes time at the end of each day to light a candle and mention someone or something from their day for whom or for which they’d like to pray. They then together say an Our Father and Hail Mary for each of their intentions. Continue reading

Your 24/7 sacrament

couple overlooking water morguefile_125Most of us try to hit Mass every Sunday and reconciliation a couple times a year. The grace of baptism and confirmation is always with us, but not always top-of-mind. While some sacraments dance on the periphery of our lives, marriage is our in-your-face sacrament, our 24-hours-a-day sacrament.

Marriage is the only sacrament not conferred by a priest, deacon, or bishop. Rather, the husband and wife confer the sacrament on each other. There’s something both holy and practical about this. After all, 10 years into marriage as you argue in the kitchen about whose turn it is to drive across town to ballet class, there will be no priest in the kitchen to settle the dispute. Continue reading

Should old annoyance be forgot… part two

Couple winter walk RGB 2dMEpAKCasting off the “rerun” arguments. Many marriages have one or more repeating areas of friction. Recurring issues also come up between parents and children. Arguments are not bad in themselves. If both parties leave the argument having made points that the other person has acknowledged, and both parties take responsibility for changing an area of themselves as a result, the argument, while uncomfortable, was necessary for growth.

But if you find that there’s an area of your marriage or family life that is stuck in a negative pattern, with neither person ready to admit fault or take action, you may need to seek help outside the family.

“My wife and I don’t regularly go to a marriage counselor,” says Tim, a father of two who has been married 15 years. “But we’ve gone maybe a half dozen times in our marriage. We’ve learned that when we aren’t able to make a decision together or we feel like we are drifting, a few sessions with a counselor help us identify some underlying problems that we need to fix in order to be close again.”

Casting off denial. Ignoring a family problem in hopes it will go away rarely works as a long-term solution. Some parents, exhausted from the relentless nature of managing a household, choose to look the other way when confronted with evidence that their child or spouse is making poor choices.

Parents can also be in denial about their own shortcomings—a parent with an anger problem may reason that everyone loses her temper occasionally. “Last year, my husband admitted he was an alcoholic—and had probably been one for the last decade,” says Tammy, married 18 years with five children. “It was so hard. He cried when he told our teenager. But the months that have followed have been the best in our marriage. The lies are over. He is telling me his fears rather than keeping them inside and drinking. As a couple, we are stronger than ever.”

By Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our FaithClaretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the Best in Class award in 2013 from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for the past four years running. Here’s a sample issue.

We offer very low rates for parish use, as well as our free Moms’ Night Out monthly discussion guides.

And don’t miss our popular single-page parish handouts on handing on the faith, helping kids understand the Mass, Lent, and Advent.

Like us on Facebook and follow Homefaith on Twitter.

 

Prayer: It only takes a moment

Yes, a weekend retreat would be ideal, but you only have three consecutive unscheduled minutes. What to do?

Bless your spouse. Your wife has a big presentation at work. Stop her on her way out the door, trace a cross on her forehead, and ask God to be with her in all she does today.

Hold hands and say one petition. You’re driving to visit your husband’s mother before her surgery. Grab his hand and pray out loud for his mother.

Fall back on tradition. You’re out of ideas for your misbehaving middle-schooler. Before bed, simply say, “For Ashley,” and pray the Our Father or Hail Mary.

Post-it note prayer. Write a prayer for your spouse and tuck it in his or her lunch or briefcase.

by Annemarie Scobey from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the 2012 Best in Class award from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for the past three years running. Here’s a sample issue.

We offer very low rates for parish use, as well as our free Moms’ Night Out monthly discussion guides.

And don’t miss our popular single-page parish handouts on handing on the faith, helping kids understand the Mass, Lent, and Advent.

New! Like us on Facebook and follow Homefaith on Twitter.

Double your prayer life, part two

Pray separately, but stay connected. When Tracy and Tom, parents of four, decided they needed to focus more on their faith, they realized that scheduling time together would be their biggest challenge. “Tracy is at home and has a greater flexibility to set aside time for 10 minutes of prayer in the middle of the day,” Tom says. “I go to the online prayer site Sacred Space (sacredspace.ie) before work, but occasionally I’ll e-mail her a link if it’s something that seems especially pertinent to her.” For her part, Tracy appreciates the occasional prayer e-mail from her husband. “It’s great to know that early in the morning, while I was taking care of the kids, he was thinking about me.”

Pray out loud, in the dark. While many parents have a bedtime prayer routine with the kids, they neglect to have a similar routine with their spouse. A television in the bedroom compromises not only a couple’s time to talk before bed, but it can quash any chance of prayer before bed as well. If you and your spouse spend your time before bed watching TV, commit to turning it off earlier. Turn off the lights and give voice to your gratitude and worries.

Programs, retreats, prayer groups. Some parishes do better with these than others, but almost all parishes offer evenings of reflection or talks on a specific area of faith. Grab onto these. Going to programs with a spouse can give you a jumping-off point to build a prayer life in the home. “My husband and I signed up for an article discussion group, partly just to get some adult conversation time,” says Bridget, mother of three preschoolers and a baby. “Once we committed, as hard as it was to find the half hour to read the spiritual article, we knew we had to do it, and that was good for us.”

by Annemarie Scobey from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the 2012 Best in Class award from the Associated Church Press, as well as the 2010 and 2011 General Excellence awards from the Catholic Press Association. Here’s a sample issue.

We offer very low rates for parish use, as well as our free Moms’ Night Out monthly discussion guides.

And don’t miss our popular single-page parish handouts on handing on the faith, helping kids understand the Mass, Lent, and Advent.

New! Like us on Facebook and follow Homefaith on Twitter.

Double your prayer life

Just about every couple can recall their first moments of intimacy with their spouse. Whether it was the thrill of first holding hands on a date, or the first “I love you,” couples recognize that the initial—and sometimes awkward—intimate moments of their relationship formed the basis for the more intense intimacy that would come later.

Prayer with a spouse has some similarities to physical intimacy—it requires both partners to be open and vulnerable with the other. Good prayer experiences unite a couple, bring them closer, and provide cushioning for the tough parts of marriage. While physical intimacy is a given in relationships, prayer is not. Teenage boys don’t brag about getting to “second base” in prayer—and few women’s magazines cover a lack of satisfaction in prayer life as well as they do a lack of satisfaction in the bedroom. Couples with years of experience with physical intimacy can feel embarrassed or inadequate at the thought of praying with a spouse. So move over Cosmo, here are some tips to leave him or her really satisfied—with your prayer life.

Go to Mass together, without the kids. If you didn’t begin attending Mass regularly until you started your family, you may have missed out on some important “premarital” or “honeymoon” prayer experiences. Going to Mass together as a couple has some similarities to going out with your spouse within a group of friends. The congregation surrounds you, but you are also there specifically with one other person, to pray.

“When we have a rare getaway weekend, it can be tempting to sleep in and skip Mass,” says Dave, father of two. “But we find going to Mass without the kids to be a completely different experience, and we’re always happy we decided to go. We can attend to it better, and really pray—without worrying about the squirming kids. Afterwards, we can go to brunch and talk about what we thought the message was for us.”        …continued next week

by Annemarie Scobey from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the 2012 Best in Class award from the Associated Church Press, as well as the 2010 and 2011 General Excellence awards from the Catholic Press Association. Here’s a sample issue.

We offer very low rates for parish use, as well as our free Moms’ Night Out monthly discussion guides.

And don’t miss our popular single-page parish handouts on handing on the faith, helping kids understand the Mass, Lent, and Advent.

New! Like us on Facebook and follow Homefaith on Twitter.

Our love is here to stay

Catholic writer Dolores Curran once cracked wise about the difficulty facing parishes seeking to offer help to married couples. Just imagine the announcement, she said: “All those in troubled marriages are invited to meet in the rectory on Thursday night at 7:30.”

While the all-absorbing years of parenting march inexorably toward the moment of the child’s departure, living with a spouse for 40 or 50 years is truly the long haul. Yet compared to the torrents of advice on how best to parent a child physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually, we see no comparable onslaught for those committed to maintaining a good marriage. Continue reading

Creeping entitlement in marriage

An interview with Dr. William Doherty on marriage, from the editors of U.S. Catholic. Doherty, a family therapist and professor in the department of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota, is the author of Take Back Your Kids (Sorin Books) and Take Back Your Marriage (Guilford Press), among many others.

Does the consumer culture affect marriage?

Yes and it’s devastating. Marriage is becoming a lifestyle with a person I choose because they can meet my needs and we can be happy together.

I don’t believe people bring this attitude to the altar. People still get married, I think, because they love this person and want to be committed to them and live their life together. But there’s this alternative sensibility of entitlement. When the going gets rough, as it almost always does, this voice comes out that asks, “Is this a good deal for me?” Continue reading

Haunted by gratitude

What does a woman who lost her husband to a sudden car accident wish the rest of us knew about marriage? Julie, a mother of two teens, said that in the first two weeks after her husband’s death, she wanted to tell everyone she met to make sure they thanked their spouse as often as they could.

“I was haunted by the idea of gratitude,” Julie says. “I wanted to thank my husband for all his hard work— to really thank him.” She goes on to say that it’s easy for spouses to take each other for granted in the midst of all the tasks that are part of family life. “Slow down and look at all your spouse does for you, and say thank you. You always think you’ll always have time to do that, but you might not. You cannot say ‘thank you’ too much.”

by Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the 2010 General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association. Here’s a sample issue.

We offer very low rates for parish use, as well as our free Moms’ Night Out monthly discussion guides.

And don’t miss our popular single-page parish handouts on handing on the faith, helping kids understand the Mass, Lent, and Advent.

Follow Homefaith on Twitter.

Have I told you lately that I love you?

On the 21st of each month, my dad brings my mom flowers to mark their “monthly” anniversary. On the paper around the flowers he writes the number of months they’ve been married. They were wed on October 21, 1967, and, as far as I know, my dad has never missed a month. “Happy 509” will be what he’ll write next month.

My husband and I aren’t organized enough to recognize our anniversary on a monthly basis, but five years ago, when Bill and I celebrated our tenth year of marriage, I decided to declare a jubilee year for our family starting on our anniversary date. I thought the church had an excellent idea with its Jubilee 2000 celebration, which included Masses and events throughout the year. Like the pope, I saw no reason to contain our celebrating to one day. (And like the pope, what I declare in our family tends to come to pass, though not always without dissent.) Continue reading